Opening Remarks by Peter Dery, CCAC Co-Chair and Director responsible for the Environment Division at the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ghana

Executive Director, UNEP,

Head of the CCAC

Delegates

Ladies and gentlemen.

It is a pleasure to be at this year’s annual Conference and the opportunity to make these remarks as co-chair of the CCAC.

The Earth’s vital signs are failing as we experience record emissions, ferocious fires, deadly droughts, and the hottest year ever.

We are several years from the goals of the Paris Agreement – and just minutes to the midnight for the 1.5-degree limit.

Science has also shown that both the climate crisis and Air pollution act as an accelerator on existing social inequalities. 

Short-lived climate pollutants like methane, black carbon, and HFCs are responsible for 45% of current warming, and are major contributors to air pollution – a public health emergency that results in premature deaths in the world and more than 1 million premature deaths per year in Africa. 

Vulnerable groups such as Children, elderly people, and people with medical conditions are at particular risk.

Air pollution costs billions of dollars in healthcare costs, in lost workdays, in ruined crops. Not to mention the damage it does to ecosystems and biodiversity.

In addition is climate change, which is increasingly manifesting itself in the form of out-of-control wildfires, severe droughts, or devastating flooding which is intrinsically linked to air pollution.

As a coalition, collectively we do have the power, to make our air cleaner and also contribute to solving the climate crisis.

To deliver on this bold vision, the CCAC has over the years supported countries to put in place adequate policy, regulatory and legislative frameworks. But policies and legislating alone will not be enough. We need all actors to play their part. That means at all governance levels, from local to national and at international scale. Stakeholders in all relevant sectors, from transport to buildings, agriculture, energy, and industry need to take urgent action. As a Coalition we would have to act quickly, and together. 

The challenges of Air pollution and climate is something that’s bigger than the interests of any individual country. That requires joint international action. This is the purpose of our gathering this week.

Our work benefits from the fact that, in most cases, fighting climate change also helps to reduce air pollution, and vice versa. So we continue to look for synergies across the two strands of work.

This CCAC annual conference provides the perfect opportunity to discuss what we need to do and plot the path ahead.

To consider how we can spread knowledge to bring about cleaner air, make sure our workforce has the right skills, plan our cities and their surroundings the right way, better organize our transport to reduce the social inequalities which, as I said earlier, are only increased by air pollution. 

However, making the most of this, funding will be critical, and wish to appeal once more to generous funders to upscale their support the CCAC and call on others to also come on board. We need to see action on the ground, and since the CCAC is driven by all of us I’m confident it’s the right place to make this happen. 

Let me conclude by reaffirming Ghana’s commitment to climate and clean air action. 

In particular, this week I would like to see us advance ideas and plans for a “CCAC Africa Clean Air Programme,” as called for in the CCAC Africa regional assessment launched a year and a half ago. My Minister — as a medical doctor and a former minister of health — knows how air pollution impacts health of people, and sees great potential to make reductions through a joint climate and clean air approach. No other region has implemented such an integrated approach, and I know Africa can lead the way. I personally would like to take a concrete proposal to our next CCAC Board meeting in May this year, and to launch a programme by the end of this year that will contribute to real action on the ground, and across the continent.

Ghana sees significant value in this because of the benefits that climate and clean air brings to developing countries such as ours especially to food security, in addition to the fact that we are contributing to meeting the 1.5 degrees target.

I urge all to support the CCAC flagships and its work programme on methane.

Thank you to Kenya for hosting us.